Spotlight: Japanese artist Yosuke Amemiya’s site-specific work finds new life through virtual reality

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What do you want to know: Japanese artist Yosuke Amemiya (b. 1975) has a multimedia artistic practice that encompasses painting, sculpture, installation and performance, and often a combination of these elements within the same piece. Everyday and human connection are central themes to which Amemiya constantly returns in his work; depictions of the everyday are shown with slight deviations to heighten awareness, both of oneself and of those around us. In 2021, Amemiya creates Ishinomaki Thirteen Minutes, a site-specific multimedia installation presented at the Art-Reborn Festival in Ishinomaki, Japan. Although the installation cannot be physically recreated, it is still the focus of Amemiya’s current solo exhibition, “Certainly, Chawan (a bowl) and Wanchan (a dog) are completely different things, but some days not so much”, at Snow Contemporary, Tokyo. The exhibit features 30 of Amemiya’s illustrated manuscripts for Ishinomaki Thirteen Minutesas well as a special VR installation that allows viewers to virtually experience the play.

Why we love it: As is common in Amemiya practice, Ishinomaki Thirteen Minutes is a multi-layered work both materially and conceptually. Created for the first edition of the Reborn-Art Festival, it marked the 10th anniversary of the East Japan earthquake as well as the first anniversary of the Covid-19 outbreak. The work contemplates both the past and the future through the lens of these two major events, while making meta-references to other works in Amemiya’s oeuvre. The complex themes and ideas in Ishinomaki Thirteen Minutes are recorded in exhibited manuscripts, which are both notes and reflections on the production of the piece as well as whimsical and creative illustrations – and often the writing and drawing cannot be extracted from each other . And although the virtual reality viewing of Ishinomaki Thirteen Minutes does not allow viewers the exact experience of the site-specific work, it offers a much wider audience the opportunity to engage with a new iteration of the work, connecting them to the emotional and intellectual elements of the work. ‘work.

According to the Gallery: Ishinomaki Thirteen Minutes is a very complex work that reflects the complicated situation we are experiencing during the Covid-19 epidemic, 10 years after the Great East Japan Earthquake. This work is impossible to recreate elsewhere due to the composition of Amemiya’s performance; his obsession with the text; the specificity and universality he contemplates through his apple sculptures; his reckless bravery to accept and celebrate the world; his consideration for the world after and before him and his perspective on the present which were acquired through the 1,300 years project; the theme of the Reborn-Art Festival, “Altruism and fluidity”; a few crashes; and the synchronicity and compatibility of the work. That said, however, I realized that these items were all featured in the “manuscripts” and came up with the idea of ​​showing them as an exhibit.

See Yosuke Amemiya’s work and installation views from the exhibition below.

Installation view of “Certainly Chawan (a bowl) and Wanchan (doggy) are completely different things, but sometimes not so much” at Snow Contemporary, Tokyo, 2022.

Installation view of "Ishinomaki Thirteen Minutes" VR Experience at Snow Contemporary, Tokyo, 2022.

Installation view of “Certainly Chawan (a bowl) and Wanchan (doggy) are completely different things, but sometimes not so much” at Snow Contemporary, Tokyo, 2022.

Yosuke Amemiya, Manuscript for Ishinomaki 13 Minutes (2021/22).  Courtesy of Snow Contemporary, Tokyo.

Yosuke Amemiya, Manuscript for Ishinomaki Thirteen Minutes (2021-22). Courtesy of Snow Contemporary, Tokyo.

Yosuke Amemiya, Ishinomaki Thirteen Minutes (2021-22);  of the presentation at the Reborn Art Festival.  Courtesy of Snow Contemporary Art, Tokyo.

Yosuke Amemiya, Ishinomaki Thirteen Minutes (2021-22); of the presentation at the Reborn Art Festival, Ishinomaki, Japan. Courtesy of Snow Contemporary, Tokyo.

Installation view of Ishinomaki Thirteen Minutes (2021-22) by Yosuke Amemiya at the Reborn-Art Festival.

Installation view of Yosuke Amemiya, Ishinomaki Thirteen Minutes (2021-22) at the Reborn-Art Festival, Ishinomaki, Japan. Courtesy of Snow Contemporary, Tokyo.

“Certainly Chawan (a bowl) and Wanchan (doggy) are completely different things, but sometimes not so much” is on view at Snow Contemporary, Tokyo, through November 19, 2022.

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